Volume 4, Issue 5 (May 2007)
Testing and Assessment of Marble and Limestone (TEAM)—Important Results from a Large European Research Project on Cladding Panels
The use of natural stone as facade cladding has been shown to have much lower life cycle costs and they are more environmentally friendly than comparable products of concrete, glass, and steel. Promoting the use of natural stone has therefore a great positive impact on the environment. However, the number of occurrences of bowing and expansion of marble and limestone panels has led to increased maintenance costs, significant safety risk, and negative publicity. The lack of knowledge of a solution to the problem of bowing marble has a large negative effect on the entire stone trade. In response, short-sighted and less durable construction solutions are used as an alternative, adding to the decreasing export figures and numbers of employees within the stone sector. The TEAM (TEAM=TEsting and Assessment of Marble and limestone) project addresses a problem with marble types, from several European countries, that display bowing on facades in both cold and warm climates. There is, therefore a need to develop harmonized European standards for differentiating between marble that is susceptible to bowing and marble that is not. Resolution No. 013, in May 1999 taken by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), Technical Committee (TC) 246 Natural Stone states the urgent needs “to develop a direct test method of the bowing risk for marble cladding products.” Thus, the project addresses the mandate for external wall coverings and the safety of panels. This paper serves to give a comprehensive overview of the main findings in the project. The main objectives were: • To understand and explain the mechanisms of the expansion and loss of strength, probably the most important phenomena leading to degradation of marble and limestone clad facades. • To prevent the use of deleterious marble and limestone by introducing drafts for European standards. • To develop a concept for assessment of facades, including a monitoring system in order to predict strength development and improve safety and reliability. • To analyze if surface coating and impregnation could prevent or diminish the degradation. • To address quality control aspects in order to optimize the production conditions. The TEAM project consortium, representing nine EU (European union) countries, comprised sixteen partners representing stone producers and trade associations, testing laboratories, standardization and certification bodies, consultants, building owners and caretakers and producers of fixing and repair systems. A state-of-the-art report has been written and is based on an extensive compilation of more than 400 papers on marble and limestone deterioration dating from the late 1800s to 2006. A survey of about 200 buildings has given a clear picture of the extent of the problem in geographical, geological, and climatological terms. Detailed case studies of six buildings have resulted in a methodology for assessment of facades including monitoring system and risk assessment. Research both in the laboratory and the field were performed on a large number of different stone types from different countries and used in different climates. This gave the explanation of degradation mechanisms and led to the determination of the critical influencing factors. Two tests methods, including precision statements: one for bowing  and one for thermal and moisture irreversible expansion have been prepared for submission to CEN TC 246. Repair techniques based on the use of surface coating and impregnation systems has been tested at laboratory and in the field. Positive side effects including increased durability and easier cleaning have been observed. Guidelines for production and product control have been proposed, and an instruction for stone sampling and description has been developed.